THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is building a new military outpost in Zamboanga City to serve as protective mantle against armed attacks, similar to what the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) did last year.
But contrary to the AFP’s claim, the Communist Partty of the Philippines (CPP) said that it is more likely that the camp, which it said is worth P3.2 billion, is set to host and provide security for United States (US) soldiers and military hardware .
“There is ample reason to believe that the planned AFP camp, which will also provide space for the police and the Coast Guard, is nothing but a new US military base, to be constructed in accordance with the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) where the US will be allowed to set up facilities in so-called ‘agreed locations’ within AFP cmps,” said the CPP.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala on Monday countered that the CPP does not know what they talking about.
“What the CPP is saying is inaccurate,” Zagala pointed out.
Zagala said what is to be built in the village of Rio Hondo in Zamboanga City is not really a camp but more of an outpost less than a hectare in size for the joint use of the AFP, Philippine National Police and Coast Guard.
He added that the city government of Zamboanga would shoulder the cost of the lot and the construction of the perimeter wall and other structures inside.
“We are occupying the property and the city of Zamboanga will purchase it to protect the city,” Zagala pointed out. “As of now we are waiting for the city to develop it.”
He likewise clarified that the P3.2 billion being referred to by the CPP was actually the total cost for the rehabilitation of conflict-affected villages of Zamboanga City.
Zagala said the planned outpost would serve as deterrent against any armed attacks in the city.
It will be recalled that in September last year, some 300 members of the MNLF-Misuari faction landed and occupied in the coastal village of Rio Honda that later spread to four adjacent coastal barangays.
It took the military and the police three weeks to quell the MNLF siege.
The AFP has an existing military base in Zamboanga City, the Camp General Basilio Navarro, which is also the home of the US Pacific Command’s 700-strong Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines.